Tag Archives: romance

Review of Bullheaded, by Catt Ford

I bought a copy of Catt Ford‘s Bullheaded.

Description from Goodreads:
Aging bull rider Cody Grainger needs bullfighter Johnny Arrow for more than just protection in the ring. Their bond of trust goes beyond the professional and into love, but while their relationship holds up to the need for discretion imposed by their sport and repeatedly having to watch each other put themselves in the way of dangerous animals, other barriers still tear them apart.

For one thing, Cody is ten years older than Johnny. But instead of contemplating retirement, he focuses on winning the championship, desperate to stay on top. Johnny is only beginning to find the professional recognition he craves. When frustration leads Johnny to walk away, Cody’s season slumps. While they’re apart, they both slowly realize they are meant to be together. But machismo abounds in the sport of bull riding, and their pride might be an obstacle too big for love to overcome.

Review:
I was really looking forward to reading this. I went to my first real rodeo this summer and it made for the perfect backdrop for this book. For sure I could hear the announcer clear as day. However, despite that, the book wasn’t a winner for me. Starting on about page 30 I was just frustrated with it the whole time.

For one, there is just too much sex. I’m not a prude. I like a good sex scene or three. But this book just about literally has one every ten pages like clockwork. It’s a 320 page book! The sex definitely got in the way of the plot, cluttered up the narrative and just go old.

What’s more, a lot of that sex was actually when the two men were broken up. So, it’s not even meaningful sex. It’s fucking filler. Yes, the men were supposed to be learning life lessons because of it. But I didn’t need every rest-stop hookup and angry anonymous blow job to see this. What’s worse, it made Cody look like a total douche, the way he treated his partners. And trust me, Cody didn’t need to be made to look like more of an ass. He’s a large part of why I disliked the book.

Cody was arrogant, smug and cocky. Johnny left him for legitimate reasons, Cody (at 32) seemed too self-obsessed to understand why, and this never changed. Johnny, the more mature to start with showed growth, Cody did not. He just got his was as always and the author pretended it was a happy ending.

And here-in lies my bigger issue. Johnny left because Cody made everything about himself. He couldn’t separate what was good for himself from what was good for anyone else. Then, Johnny came back to Cody because Cody needed him. Making it all about Cody again and pretending there had been some growth that there hadn’t actually been. Johnny even said, “You’ve changed,” to Cody. But I saw no evidence of this. Cody never said or did anything that made me think he was any different than when the book started. Thus, I finished the book frustrated and angry.

I didn’t understand why Johnny was with Cody to start with. They had no relationship outside of explosive sex and they were supposed to have been together for two years. Two years and Cody is such an narcissist he literally never asked Johnny Arrow what his real name is, his coming out story, what his tattoo means, etc.

Then there were all the repeat conversations. I think there must have been fifteen versions of “When you retire…” “But I don’t want to retire…” “When you retire…” “But I don’t want to retire…” Then there were all the conversations about these conversations. No, I was bored with it.

All in all, this was not a fun read for me. I finished it through force of will and nostalgia from see my first rodeo in…..Cody, Wyoming.

Review of To See the Sun, by Kelly Jensen

I received a copy of Kelly Jensen‘s To See the Sun through Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Life can be harsh and lonely in the outer colonies, but miner-turned-farmer Abraham Bauer is living his dream, cultivating crops that will one day turn the unforgiving world of Alkirak into paradise. He wants more, though. A companion—someone quiet like him. Someone to share his days, his bed, and his heart.

Gael Sonnen has never seen the sky, let alone the sun. He’s spent his whole life locked in the undercity beneath Zhemosen, running from one desperate situation to another. For a chance to get out, he’ll do just about anything—even travel to the far end of the galaxy as a mail-order husband. But no plan of Gael’s has ever gone smoothly, and his new start on Alkirak is no exception. Things go wrong from the moment he steps off the shuttle.

Although Gael arrives with unexpected complications, Abraham is prepared to make their relationship work—until Gael’s past catches up with them, threatening Abraham’s livelihood, the freedom Gael gave everything for, and the love neither man ever hoped to find.

Review:
I thought this was really lovely. There wasn’t a lot of action, most of the tension being either in someone’s fear something might happen or in the two men tiptoeing around getting to know one another, but it was nice. Jensen’s writing is beautiful and there was a happy ending for all, except the baddies (who predominantly remained faceless).

I did side-eye the gendered representation of the men though. I don’t mean to suggest all men have to be giant paragons of masculinity, but in the face of jokes about Gael being purchased as Bram’s “wife,” the fact that he’s the physically smaller of the two and excelled at cooking, cleaning and sewing (and genre-wise, came with a kid and was the one that needed to be rescued) almost made him feel uncomfortably misgendered.

I suspect that Jensen gave him some of these same qualities in an attempt to show that a man can still be a man even if he’s not ringing each coded ‘male’ bell. Which just goes to show the thin line authors walk, trying to avoid being stereotypical in one direction only to have someone say they’re being stereotypical in another.

At least Jensen was scrupulous about consent, both spoken and unspoken, even when one partner didn’t initially understand that the other was protecting him in this regard (or that he needed it). She broke convention in not only allowing the smaller man to ‘top,’ but even addressing the ridiculous trope that it’s always the bigger man that does.

I also appreciate that both men were a little older, Bram being almost 50 and Gael 29. Plus, Bram was just one of the most lovable leads I’ve read in a while. So were Geal and Aavi, but Bram stole the show for me. All in all, I really loved this. I don’t hand out a lot of 5-stars, but To See the Sun deserves one.

Review of Winter of the Gods (Olympus Bound #2), by Jordanna Max Brodsky

I won a copy of Jordanna Max Brodsky‘s Winter of the Gods through Goodreads. I reviewed book one, The Immortals, last year (almost exactly a year ago, actually).

Description:
Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself.

Winter in New York: snow falls, lights twinkle, and a very disgruntled Selene DiSilva prowls the streets looking for prey.

But when a dead body is discovered sprawled atop Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull statue, it’s clear the NYPD can’t solve the murder without help. The murder isn’t just the work of another homicidal cult — this time, someone’s sacrificing the gods themselves.

While raising fundamental questions about the very existence of the gods, Selene must hunt down the perpetrators, tracking a conspiracy that will test the bonds of loyalty and love.

Review:
I liked this one better than the first one, though I still wouldn’t say I loved it. I liked Selene and her brothers, as well as Theo. But it grated on me that goddesses other that Artemis were always spoken of dismissively (as so and so’s wife or mother, etc) and none were in the book. Why do even books with heroines as the main characters still never have women in them?

As in the first book, I didn’t feel the romance fit. I couldn’t see what Theo was attracted to in a woman who was so consistently rude to him. Plus, I disliked how fast he always was to leap on her if she was at all acceptive to sex. I don’t mean to strip her of her agency and suggest he should refuse to have sex with her just because she’s been a virgin for 3,000 years. But this is something she’s maintained because it’s been important to her, so, I thought a little more gravitas and a little less jumping on a bitch in heat would have been nice Because of this, I actually really appreciated the ending, as sad as it was. I hope Brodsky doesn’t pull back on it in the next book.

The mystery is fairly obvious. I figured out who the villain was quite early, the first time they saw page time, as a matter of fact. But it’s still interesting to see how it all plays out. All in all, not bad, but not my bag either.